Coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic weekly update for Malvern Seniors
17th May 2021
COVID LOCKDOWN in ENGLAND
EXIT STEP 3, DAILY CASES CREEPING UP
Risk remains low within the Malvern Hills district
We keep an eye on the published government figures and monitor the media to asses the level of risk for Seniors in the Malvern Hills district.
This page is currently updated every Sunday between 1800 and 2400 hours GMT.
Information about Coronavirus can be found on the NHS website:
How to request a COVID test
In order to protect others it is important to book a test and self isolate if you feel unwell with COVID symptoms.
There are now two types of test you can get. The accurate PCR test involving a throat and nose swab which is sent off to a laboratory for analysis and the quicker Lateral Flow test.
Getting a PCR test
Click the link below for information on how to get a free NHS PCR test if you think you have Coronavirus:
In case of difficulty you can try phoning the Coronavirus contact centre by dialing 119.
There is a 'walk through' COVID testing station at County Hall next to the Countrywide Centre; one has been set up at the Worcester Arena car park on the University of Worcester site in Hylton Road to serve the residents of St Johns; and there is also a drive through pod at the Worcester Royal Hospital.
The nearest COVID testing station is on the upper level of the car park below Great Malvern library on the corner of Victoria Road and Como Road.
These are not drop-ins and you will need to book - but there is said to be good availability and you should get the result back in about 24 hours.
Getting a Lateral Flow test
Lateral Flow tests can now be obtained at Great Malvern Library. This test is chiefly intended to screen working people who may be infected but show no symptoms and can either be pre-booked or you can walk in.
About the COVID Symptom Study app (Zoe)
Please consider helping others by downloading the COVID Symptom Study app onto your smart phone or Ipad and reporting how you feel either daily, or as you are able. Note that currently there is no desktop PC version for Windows.
For further details click this link: https://covid19.joinzoe.com
The Zoe app, which is easy to use, allows you to report whether or not you are feeling well and if you have had a test for COVID. This helps Kings College London monitor the spread and symptoms of the disease and give advice to government.
If you have had a jab there are new questions allowing you to enter the vaccine type and any side effects. If you do not see these questions you will need to update the app.
There is also a new mental health questionnaire.
NHS COVID-19 contact tracing app (England)
Release of the NHS COVID-19 contact tracing app for Apple and Android smartphones was announced on 24th September.
The app provides a means for warning people who have unknowingly been in the presence of someone who has tested COVID positive.
There is talk of updating the app to show vaccination status.
16th May 2021
The vaccination programme is on track, and the COVID death rate has fallen to a low level, as have daily hospital admissions.
There is increasing optimism that things will soon get back to near normal in the UK, although the PM has urged caution in Bolton and Blackburn where the Indian variant of COVID-19 has started spreading exponentially within the unvaccinated population; measures, such as surge testing, are being taken to counter this.
England moves to STEP 3 out of lockdown on Monday 17th May 2021; we must take this next step with a heavy dose of caution says the PM.
Remember that, though we are being offered new freedoms, it is our decision how cautious to be.
A local summary of COVID cases can be found on the Worcestershire Coronavirus Dashboard. Rates have increased slightly this week particularly in the city of Worcester.
Note: use the arrow <> buttons at the bottom of the Dashboard screen to move between pages.
You can see at a glance the percentage of people vaccinated by age group on the Worcestershire COVID-19 Vaccinations Dashboard.
There is a mass vaccination centre at The Three Counties Showground.
The government still hopes to vaccinate all those aged 18+ with a first jab by the end of July 2021. The rate of first vaccinations fell sharply in April and early May due to a dip in the supply of vaccine, and to give priority to second jabs for the elderly. Vaccinations need to be ramped up towards 300,000 first jabs per day for the 18+ target to be met.
Those aged 38+ years can now book a jab on-line without having to wait for a call from their GP surgery and sometime next week those aged 35+ should be able to book. Here is the link:
Alternatively you can wait to be contacted by your GP surgery - this may either be by a phone call, or a text message on your mobile.
If you are housebound and cannot get out you should contact your GP surgery to ask for a home visit.
If it is 8 weeks since your first jab and you are 50+ and haven't been offered an appointment for your second jab, contact your GP surgery.
According to the Zoe Symptom Study the vaccine offers no protection for the first two weeks but after 3 weeks most vaccinated individuals have some immunity. Remember that a first jab only offers about 80% protection so you may still become ill though in most cases not seriously.
The bar chart below shows the population of the UK by age band (1), and the number of first (2) and second jabs (3) given, so that you can see overall progress of the vaccination programme in the UK.
Vaccinometer as of 16th May 2021
Total first jabs are reported 36,573,354 to the 16th May. Second jabs are reported 20,103,658. In comparison the population of the UK, including children, is about 66,000,000
You will find information summarised on the Vaccination tab of the Coronavirus Dashboard.
A glimpse of the worldwide vaccination situation can be found on the Our World in Data website.
There are many charts which some may find confusing, but look for the chart showing share of people who have received at least one dose of COVID-vaccine.
Hint: click TABLE tab to see more countries.
After a slow start vaccination programmes in the EU are ramping up. Figures to 14th May are Germany 36%, Belgium 33%, Spain 32%, Italy 31% and France 29%. Surprisingly India and Russia are still only 10% vaccinated. In comparison 53% of the UK population (including children) has received at least one jab.
It beggars belief, bearing in mind they may be hosting the Olympics in July 2021, that Japan is only 3% vaccinated.
Number of cases
This week the average rate of people testing COVID positive in the UK reported by PHE on the 'Coronavirus Dashboard' crept up slightly from 2,094 new cases per day to 2,274. The chart below shows how the daily rate has varied since 1st September.
UK daily confirmed COVID cases 1st September to 9th May 2021
The chart below shows in more detail how daily cases have varied between 1st March and the 16th May.
UK daily new confirmed COVID cases 1st March to 16th May 2021
So far there has been no sharp upturn from 'unlocking'.
During the last week the cumulative total of confirmed UK COVID cases reported by PHE rose by 15,917 to 4,450,777.
In Worcestershire there have now been 33,511 confirmed cases of COVID-19 an increase of 87 on the week; slightly more than last week - particularly in the city of Worcester.
The breakdown by Worcestershire Lower Tier Local Authorities (LTLA) is shown in the following table, together with comparisons for Herefordshire, a more sparsely populated county, and the city of Leicester.
Note: the cumulative cases are copied from the 'Cases by area' (whole pandemic) data set of the Coronavirus Dashboard. The weekly increase is calculated by subtracting last week's total from this week's.
Cumulative cases reported by PHE in Worcestershire to 16th May 2021
Cases are a little higher in Worcestershire and Leicester this week, and slightly lower in Herefordshire.
At the bottom of the Coronavirus Dashboard (daily update) page there is an Interactive Map which is coloured to show the variation in infection rate across the country.
Note: the Interactive Map works on desktop PCs but it's possible you may encounter difficulties using a tablet or smartphone.
New cases in Malvern are currently too low to register on the map, except for Pickersleigh where 3 cases were reported in week ending 11th May. Five cases have been reported in the Ronkswood and Nunnery Wood district of Worcester.
Number of deaths
Statistics on COVID deaths are published by Public Health England, The Office of National Statistics, and NHS England.
Public Health England reports that the cumulative total of COVID (28) deaths in UK hospitals and care homes has risen by 74 in the last week to 127,679 while the daily average has flat-lined at 10 deaths per day.
In comparison averaged over recent years 1,700 people die daily from all causes so COVID-190 deaths are now less than 1%.
The Office of National Statistics (ONS) separately reports registered deaths in England and Wales where COVID-19 is mentioned on the death certificate. The ONS figures lag the PHE figures by 10 - 14 days and do not include Northern Ireland and Scotland.
The ONS figures are broken down by District providing a glimpse of where deaths are occurring. The provisional cumulative total of COVID related deaths in Worcestershire reported by the ONS up to 30th April 2021 (week 17 of 2021) is shown below.
Note: the numbers are from the ONS Death Registrations-Pivot table
Provisional cumulative COVID-19 deaths registered by ONS to 30th April 2021
Happily, in the last week, no COVID-19 deaths were reported by the ONS in Worcestershire.
In England and Wales 205 COVID-19 related deaths were reported by the ONS in the week to 30th April; 53 lower than the week before, a fall of 20%. Of these 30 were in a care home, 36 at home, 1 in a hospice, 133 in hospital and 5 elsewhere.
The provisional COVID-19 death toll for all weeks of the epidemic is shown in the following table for England and Wales.
COVID-19 death toll in England and Wales to 30th April 2021 (source: ONS)
Note: summation of rows 9-344 of ONS Registrations-Pivot Table spreadsheet tab.
The UK death toll is about 10% higher as deaths for Scotland and Northern Ireland have to be added.
Click for national ONS data on deaths (Excel spreadsheet)
The death toll based on death certificates is about 20% higher than deaths within 28 days reported by PHE.
NHS England figures
The table below shows latest COVID deaths in Worcestershire hospitals reported by NHS England to 14th May.
The main point to note is the COVID death rate has fallen far from its peak and there are now very few if any weekly deaths in Worcestershire.
The UK government Coronavirus Dashboard includes important information about healthcare statistics.
Headline summary of patients in hospital as reported 16th May 2021
The number of COVID-19 patients currently in hospital is now down to 2% of the peak and the number of patients on ventilators continues to fall slowly.
In the past, the steady state number of COVID patients in hospital has been roughly ten time the number of patients admitted daily, suggesting the number of COVID patients in hospital could plateau at about 1,000.
Last year roughly 10% of new cases were admitted to hospital and of those at least 1 in 5 died.
The latest figures suggest about 5% of new cases are being admitted to hospital. If it is assumed that due to vaccination just 1 in 10 of these now dies then 103 hospital admissions per day may suggest up to 10 UK deaths per day in early June.
Note: these ratios are very rough and ready and should change as more of the population is vaccinated.
Tabulated figures for bed occupancy in Worcestershire Acute and Care hospitals can be found on the NHS England website.
You can also obtain a snapshot of bed occupancy from the Coronavirus Dashboard daily update page, by entering your postcode at the bottom of the page, which will show data for Worcestershire; then find and click All Health Data to see bed occupancy. This information has returned to the Worcestershire Coronavirus Dashboard.
Recently there have been 8 COVID patients in Worcestershire Acute Hospitals of which none were on ventilators; up from 5 last week.
The main point to note is that the number of Worcestershire COVID-19 beds occupied is still much lower than the peak of 300 beds..
Forecast for the week ahead
Trends suggest that during the next seven days (up to 23rd May) the cumulative total of new UK COVID-19 cases reported by PHE on the Coronavirus Dashboard could increase by about 16,500 towards 4,467,500.
In Worcestershire there could be 100 new cases of COVID-19, and possibly up to 20 cases in the Malvern Hills district.
We estimate the number of COVID (28) deaths will increase by about 70 nationally towards 127,750 during the 7 days ending 23rd May 2021.
In the county of Worcestershire, assuming a 0.5% death rate, the 87 new cases this week should translate to no more than one COVID death per fortnight in early June.
Longer term forecast
Commentators suggest that the UK is approaching herd immunity due to both the success of the vaccination programme, and immunity of those who have already been infected by COVID-19.
The flare up in Bolton casts some doubt on this, so we will have to wait and see what happens in coming weeks. Matt Hancock says most of those in hospital in Bolton had been offered the vaccine and had not taken it. Reports from Oxford are suggesting the current vaccines prevent serious illness from 'new variants' while pundits warn against letting new cases 'rip' as the virus will weed out the frail and unvaccinated.
The message is therefore to continue to be reasonably cautious and get vaccinated.
It is anticipated infections will continue at a low level with occasional localised flare ups such as in Bolton and Blackburn. As many of those aged under 40 years have still to be vaccinated caution should be exercised until the end of June.
There is a potential threat from foreign 'new variants of concern' against which the present vaccines may prove less effective but don't worry as scientists are already working on booster jabs to guard against that threat.
We and scientists will have to wait 3 or 4 weeks to ascertain whether or not the outbreak of the Indian variant of COVID-19 is any worse than the Kent variant currently circulating, and whether it can be contained by a combination of surge testing, isolating the sick, and mass vaccination. In the worst case, exit from lockdown on the 21st June may have to be delayed in some districts.
Advice for Seniors
The daily number of new cases of Coronavirus has fallen a long way from the peak so we judge the risk to be LOW for most Seniors in the Malvern Hills district who have been vaccinated more than 3 weeks ago; see our annex and riskometer opposite.
But remember, if you are elderly, have not been vaccinated, and were to catch COVID there is a significant chance that you will either die or your long term health may be seriously damaged, so get your vaccine and continue to take care of yourself and those you love. 90% of COVID deaths are in those aged over 60 years according to NHS England statistics.
Click for our risk of death table (for those who have not been vaccinated)
It's possible, despite a second jab, for some Seniors to become ill with COVID, though for most this is likely to be a mild illness.
The simple safeguards to remember are to:
Hence the PMs mantra:-
HANDS, FACE, SPACE, FRESH AIR
We are now moving from a regime where the government tells us what to do to one where it is up to us to take personal responsibility for assessing the risk to ourselves and our loved ones.
Remember, if you have symptoms of COVID-19 at home and can't count from one to ten out loud due to shortness of breath, you should immediately call your GP, 111 or 999 for advice.
1) Wash your hands thoroughly before touching your face to avoid transferring virus from contaminated surfaces to your mouth, eyes and nose. If outdoors use hand gel.
2) Two metres is further than you think - roughly an arm and a walking stick away.
3) If possible keep windows and doors open to improve ventilation when meeting others.
4) If you have been vaccinated and are infected by COVID-19 you may not get the classic symptoms; you could for example have no symptoms or feel like you have a common cold. If in doubt get a test.
Japanese advice has been to avoid the three Cs, see poster below:
COVID advice in Japan
Most of us who have received two jabs probably now feel safe mingling with friends and family.
Annex to 16th May update
The COVID alert level has been lowered from 4 to 3 meaning the virus is in general circulation, but not at a high level.
The Prime Minister held a press conference on Monday announcing that England would move to STEP 3 of the exit from lockdown on 17th May.
From Monday 17 May indoor hospitality can reopen and indoor entertainment can resume, including cinemas, museums, and children’s play areas.
Up to 6 people or 2 households will be able to meet indoors and up to 30 people outdoors.
All remaining outdoor entertainment can reopen, such as outdoor cinemas and performances.
Some larger events will be able to take place, including conferences, theatre and concert performances, and sports events. Restrictions on the number of attendees will remain as set out in the Roadmap.
Guidance on meeting family and friends will be updated.
The public can make informed, personal decisions on close contact, such as hugging, with their friends and family. Close contact continues to carry a risk of catching or spreading COVID-19, and people must consider the risk to themselves and to others.
COVID-secure rules remain for the workplace and businesses, such as in shops and hospitality.
Face coverings will no longer be needed in classrooms or for students in communal areas in secondary schools and colleges.
Twice weekly home testing will remain to control infection rates.
All remaining university students will be eligible to return to in-person teaching and learning from May 17, and should get tested twice a week upon return.
Up to 30 people will now be able to attend weddings, receptions, and commemorative events including wakes, as well as standalone life-cycle events. These can take place outdoors or at any indoor COVID secure venue that is permitted to open.
The number of people able to attend a funeral will be determined by the number that can be safely accommodated in the venue with social distancing in place.
30 people will be able to attend a support group or parent and child group. The limit will not apply to children under 5.
Organised adult sport and exercise classes can resume indoors and saunas and steam rooms may reopen. Care homes residents will be able to have up to five named visitors, with two visitors able to attend at once provided they are tested and follow infection control measures. Residents will also have greater freedoms to leave their home without having to isolate on their return.
On Wednesday there were reports of outbreaks of the Indian variant of COVID-19 in Bolton, Blackburn with Darwen, and London. Scientists anticipate cases may be scattered throughout the country and in time the Indian variant could become dominant.
On Thursday it was reported a few cases of the south African variant had been found in Redditch.
On Friday the PM held a press conference to update the public on the Indian variant. It is spreading more quickly than the Kent variant, but it is not yet clear by how much or whether mortality will be different. Nevertheless STEP 3 out of lockdown will go head on 17th May as planned and the situation will be monitored closely.
Those aged 38+ can now get jabs and the time between first and second jabs for those aged 50+ is being reduced from 12 to 8 weeks.
Professor Tim Spector (of the Zoe Symptom Study app) reports infection by COVID-19 amongst those who have been vaccinated is mostly a mild illness - his team will publish a report next week.
The Transport Secretary has confirmed that international travel can begin to safely reopen from 17 May, allowing people to go on foreign holidays to 'green' list countries accepting visitors. However don't get too excited as few popular resorts are on the green list. Israel is currently a 'war-zone' so few will want to go there, while Australia, New Zealand and Singapore force travellers to quarantine, so those countries are not an attractive option for short stays.
If you are hoping to go on an overseas holiday, you are advised to check things out very carefully, and make bookings that can be changed.
Strict UK border control measures remain in place requiring for example pre-departure tests and a PCR test within 2 days of arrival home.
In essence the plan is that you will need to get a COVID test before return to the UK and following arrival. If you return from a 'green' list country you are free to circulate if the tests are clear. If you return from an 'amber' list country you must quarantine for ten days and take two COVID tests. If you arrive from a red list country you must quarantine for ten days in an approved government hotel.
The cost of getting tests could be a significant burden on holiday-makers, who may also have to provide evidence of vaccination for example by either providing a vaccination certificate or by means of an app on their smartphone.
Essential business travel remains possible subject to obtaining permissions and quarantine regulations at both ends.
List of vaccines (unchanged)
Here is the list of vaccines ordered by the UK - you will see there is plenty of vaccine in the pipeline for delivery later in the year.
Table of vaccines ordered by the UK government
Present rate of new cases and risk
This week, the average rate of infection per 100,000 population per week in England has risen from 21 to 23. In comparison the figure for Worcestershire and the Malvern Hills is 10, while that in Bolton is 254.
The probability of catching Coronavirus in the Malvern Hills district is now very low, and as most Seniors have been vaccinated we judge the risk LOW.
The risk of death from Coronavirus for unvaccinated children and healthy teenagers is small so for them the risk is also LOW. The middle aged can suffer from debilitating Long COVID so for those that have not been vaccinated and may be visiting areas where rates are spiking, such as Bolton, the risk might be judged MODERATE.
About the final UK COVID-19 death toll
At the start of the epidemic on 17th March 2020 the Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Patrick Valance, questioned by the Health Select Committee, did not disagree with Jeremy Hunt's suggestion that a death toll of 20,000 might be a reasonable outcome.
On the other hand, Professor Neil Ferguson of Imperial College warned in some scenarios the death toll might be as high as 250,000; while we thought, in the very worst case assuming up to 1% of the UK population died the outcome might have been nearer 400,000 taking into account some build up of herd immunity.
So how well will the UK have done? When Jeremy Hunt and Sir Patrick Valance spoke there had been few deaths and they clearly underestimated what was to come. Professor Neil Ferguson was nearer the mark. A few might consider an outcome of about 127,600 deaths a fair result compared to a greater number of people dying in a very short space of time, more being permanently disabled by Long COVID, temporary collapse of the NHS and patients dying at home or queued in ambulances outside hospitals. You have only to look at the situation in India to imagine what could have happened.
Members of the Labour Party and others will no doubt say the UK has done poorly compared to the best performing countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Singapore where deaths have been much lower, not to mention the enormous expense of supporting those out of work and huge damage to the economy.
With hindsight, deaths might have been much lower if the second lockdown had been continued into December and January, but that would have meant cancelling Christmas, and who knows to what extent the public would have complied.
Worldwide, this pandemic is not played out and it could be a further 1 to 2 years before the 'dust' finally settles. The PM has promised an independent inquiry in Spring 2022 to learn lessons for the future.
Summary of Links
Reporting and how to obtain a test
How to get a test
About joining the Zoe COVID Symptom Study:
ONS data on deaths in England and Wales (Excel spreadsheet)
The bigger picture
European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control info
World Health Organisation info
Window on the USA
Worcestershire County Council COVID-19 information:
Here you will find a useful link,
'Website: Number of new cases by date in Worcestershire'
which displays interesting COVID charts and statistics for Worcestershire
Views of Martin McKee, Professor of European Public Health
The interpretations and opinions expressed are our own
Last updated 17th May 2021